I came across the Tao today, again.
I was waiting, interminably, it seemed,
For my veggie pizza to arrive,
In a bakery in Rawai, in Phuket, in Thailand.
I was trying, hard, to not become agitated.
No real sense in becoming agitated these days.
I must have learned a good deal of patience because I hid my annoyance well.
I had been biding my time looking at this pile of old used up magazines.
Good thing they weren’t dusty.
Golf 2014, Golf 2015, Golf 2016, Phuket Destinations.
They all looked the same.
Then the server brought my pizza after I waited a half hour.
But the owner seated nearby noticed right away it was not what I usually ordered.
‘Sausage, no?’ she inquired.
“Yes, no sausage,” I said, trying to not sound annoyed.
She disappeared into the kitchen.
I kept occupying myself with all these old scribblings – none of which interested me.
Then I encountered one called, Creative something or other – I don’t recall exactly.
I began thumbing through it.
Fifteen minutes later my pizza still was not ready.
No one asked if I wanted a Cafe Americano refill which I always get.
Was it some cultural thing?
Usually my wife is with me and she orders.
I speak close to zero Thai.
Perhaps they’re too polite to interfere in my privacy.
Maybe they were waiting for a sign from the foreigner that he’s ready to be waited on, again.
So I get up, approach the counter, and ask for coffee. I tell them I had ordered pizza too.
Back to my table with the dated magazine which – given the ridiculous delays – I am beginning to take the whole situation as a sign that I was supposed to read what appeared next.
Kind of like a destiny thing.
Yes, I came all the way from the good old USA nearly three years ago so I could come to this moment.
Anyway, there it was – an article on the Tao.
And I had studied Buddhism and, to a lesser extent, Taoism, Jainism, etc.
My last encounter with anything remotely religious or philosophical left a bad taste in my mouth as did the one before that.
My wife and I had entered a Jain temple in Mumbai, India.
But I was stopped abruptly by a disagreeable monk.
No, I could not be there wearing a black shirt. – black was no good.
Black was no good.
No reason. Just no can do.
It had to be one of the colors that were displayed on the altar – lovely pastels.
That was about eight years ago.
So much for my study of Jainism.
I tried to enter the Haj Sophia some months before that.
It was supposed to have been a museum – not a mosque so far as I knew.
No. No entry. Wait until the service ends.
No, I wasn’t going to wait.
This Romanesque edifice with its relatively recent minaret additions had been at the center of the western tradition.
And I – a westerner – had to wait?
I left, never to return, I guess.
I hope the Christians grab it back someday.
Reactions to negative situations can last years for me.
Today, I recalled my Yin Yang ring that I purchased from an Austrian in San Jose, Costa Rica, years ago.
I don’t know what happened to it.
But maybe I went swimming and it fell off my finger like what happened with my wedding ring.
It fell into a lake in the mountains of New Hampshire.
Cold water and a narrowed finger.
Never got another.
Actually, now that I remember, I did get another.
I just don’t wear it.
No particular reason except it feels clunky on my finger.
A constant, minor irritation.
Here I am now in Rawai, wearing no wedding ring – and planting some roots.
Not worth trying to find an answer though.
Don’t need roots, just plants and lots of them.
Moving soon back to the jungle where the air is fresh and clean.
And where I expect my asthma will leave me be and relax its formidable grip.
But for now, I have Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching – written about 2500 years ago.
The essence of Yin/Yang and the words of the master. Translation by Tolbert McCarroll.
My pizza arrived.
Well worth the wait.
I had read the article, already.
I go home.
I call it home – it’s merely been seven months, as was the last home and the one before that.
Must be something significant there.
No sense trying to figure it, though.
I find my online copy of the Tao.
Maybe this one will provide answers.
Maybe the last encounter.